WASHINGTON (Sep. 17)
The organize Jewish community launched a national campaign Wednesday to ensure that the issue of Soviet Jewry will be on the agenda if and when President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev hold a second summit.
At the same time, it was announced from the steps of the Capitol that one million signatures will be sought for a petition to Reagan urging that he “continue to insist that human rights remain a key issue of East-West relations.” The majority leaders of both Houses, Sen. Robert Dole (R. Kans.) and Rep. Jim Wright (D. Tex.), were among the participants in the Capitol ceremony.
A majority of the Senate and House have already signed the petitions which were circulated by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D. N.J.) and John Heinz (R. Pa.) and Reps. Benjamin Gilman (R. NY) and Lawrence Smith (D. Fla.).
Morris Abram, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, said at a press conference at the Capitol that the “Campaign to Summit II” was being launched just two days prior to the meeting between Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze at which the proposed summit is expected to be discussed.
Abram led a delegation later in the day to a State Department meeting with Shultz where he thanked him for the Reagan Administration’s support of Soviet Jewry and urged that the issue be on the agenda at every level of the summit meeting. He also asked the Secretary to remain firm on the Jackson-Vanik Amendment which links U.S. most-favored-nation trade benefits for the USSR with increased emigration.
Abram said the Jewish community has no objection to waivers from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment but not “on the basis of promises, waivers on the basis of results.”
MOBILIZING SENTIMENTS OF AMERICAN PEOPLE
Abram said the campaign, whose co-chairpersons are Martin Stein, national chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, and Shoshana Cardin, president of the Council of Jewish Federations (CJF), will try to “mobilize the sentiments of the American people behind a human rights campaign” aimed at allowing Jews to emigrate from the Soviet Union. He said the campaign will include a demonstration in Washington either just before or during the summit.
“The American people are determined that the Soviet Union will live up to its agreements with respects to human rights and to Jewish emigration and to Jewish rights within the Soviet Union,” Abram said.
He said the Soviet Union has violated all its international agreements on human rights. “If the Soviet Union is to be trusted with respect to an arms agreement it must demonstrate to the American people that it is trustworthy,” Abram stressed.
He noted that many expected conditions to improve after Gorbachev came to power, but “conditions have worsened,” Abram said. Only 386 Jews were allowed to emigrate during the first six months of this year, he said. He added that half of the 18 Jewish Prisoners of Conscience now in Soviet prisons or labor camps were put there on “trumped- up charges” since Gorbachev came to power.
Abram said the Soviets recently maintained that the Helsinki Agreements do not apply to Soviet Jews for reunification of families since Israel was not a signatory to the agreements.
Stein, who recently visited the Soviet Union, said he saw for himself the worsened conditions of refuseniks. He said the UJA is not only concerned with raising funds but also with “saving Jewish lives.”
Both Stein and Jerome Dick, a member of the board of the CJF, said at the press conference their organizations would mobilize on the national and local level to aid the campaign. Dick said the CJF will hold a demonstration for Soviet Jewry during its annual General Assembly in Chicago in November.